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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

No games during the work week means you can spend more time getting your whole Cardinal outfit on point.

I_medium The Louisville women's team takes on NC State tonight at 7 inside the Yum Center. Here's your game preview.

I_medium Lamar Jackson was named the 2016 Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year, and he won by the largest margin in the history of the award.

I_medium The ACC is really good at baseball, just in case there was any confusion.

I_medium Who knows if it will result in more March success, but Gonzaga looks and plays differently this season than they have in any other year under Mark Few.

I_medium Gary Parrish of CBS has Donovan Mitchell as one of the 20 players on his Wooden Award late season ballot.

I_medium Ron's rising.

I_medium The U of L men's swimming and diving team is now ranked No. 9 in the country.

I_medium Card Chronicle alum Haley O'Shaughnessy has a great read on Gorgui Dieng and the rise of basketball in the country of Senegal.

Dieng is from Senegal, a coastal West African country, as is Makhtar Ndiaye, his agent when Dieng signed with the Wolves and now a scout for the New York Knicks. Ndiaye became the first Senegalese-born NBA player when the Vancouver Grizzlies signed him as a free agent for the 1998-€”99 season. It was his only year in the league, and he played four games for an 8-€”42 team in a strike-shortened season. The advancement from Ndiaye's brief playing career to the point that Dieng signed that eight-figure deal mirrors the improvement in youth basketball in Senegal, a story of improving the odds.

In the U.S., only 0.03 percent of high school ball players get drafted into the NBA. Basketball starts young here. Talented players are plugged into AAU teams, hooked up with trainers and coaches, entered into heavily scouted tournaments, and sent to prep schools. Yet the infinitesimal 0.03 percent stands. In Senegal, at least before the past 10 to 15 years, none of that infrastructure existed.

The hallmarks of an NBA player's journey — photos of a toddler in an oversize Jordan jersey, home video of a middle school game shot on mom's Sony, McDonald's All American footage — never happened for Dieng. He began playing organized basketball at 16. Until recently, that was normal for those who take up the sport in his soccer-loving reu, which means country in Dieng's native language, Wolof. Coincidentally, considering his late basketball start, Gorgui means the old one.

Also, shoutout to Haley for being the second CC product to go on to land a full-time gig in sports.

They're all growing up so fast.

I_medium Kentucky is on Louisville's level as a program now though. Would never make a big deal out of a single victory. They EXPECT to win big games now.


I_medium There is a "Be the Match" drive taking place later this month where you could help save someone's life by taking two minutes out of your day. More details are here.

I_medium Andrea Adelson writes about Louisville addressing its offensive line needs yesterday.

I_medium Buzz, your childish cliches, woof.

I_medium Seth Davis explains why scores of college basketball coaches will wear blue puzzle pins this weekend.

I_medium The always entertaining Mark Titus writes about Frank Mason III, who might be the best player in the country right now.

I_medium I enjoy this.

I_medium Louisville is No. 12 in Luke Winn's latest power rankings for Sports Illustrated. I disagree with the ranking, but I agree that the Cards should sport their '80s throwbacks more often.

I_medium Jeff Greer has a pretty terrific read on Anas Mahmoud, and his family in Egypt's reaction to his success in America.

Anas Mahmoud's parents wrestle with a dilemma every day their son is 6,200 miles from home in Cairo, Egypt.

They are thrilled with his success on and off the basketball court. They are proud of the person the 21-year-old has become -€” a thoughtful college student with a perpetual smile on his face. They are heartened that Anas has longtime family friends in the Louisville area with whom he can observe Ramadan, eat meals after games and reminisce about life back home.

They also fight shaky internet connections in Egypt, which makes it hard for them to watch their son's games and forces them to rely on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to see clips of him and stories about him. And they desperately miss their son; FaceTime and Skype conversations don't quite make up for Anas not being there.

"We have never been more proud of him," Osama Mahmoud said in email translated by Ahmed Awadallah, a family friend who attended U of L. "Not just because he is successful and all that, but because we know how much he is willing to sacrifice in order for him to reach his dreams. At the same time, we can never explain how much we miss him being around, and it makes us really sad that we can't go and support him like we used to do. You can see it in his mom's eyes every time we try to watch him play."

I_medium Louisville is one of nine programs that hit a five-year high mark in recruiting rankings yesterday.

I_medium Last night, Dennis Smith Jr. became the first player ever to record a triple-double against multiple ACC opponents, a feat he accomplished in less than one season. NC State still blew a gigantic second half lead and lost to Syracuse though, largely because the team appeared to be more focused on Smith's stat line than, you know, winning the extremely important basketball game they were playing in.

I_medium Ryan McMahon gets some love from his hometown paper.

I_medium And finally, a "relieved" Russ Yeast is ready to be a Cardinal.